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Crawford sweeps Lady Rebels

Crawford sweeps Lady Rebels
Crawford sweeps Lady Rebels
South Central’s Libbie Campbell goes to the deck to the keep the ball in play in the first set of the Lady Rebels’ match against Crawford County. Photo by Wade Bell
Wade Bell, Sports Writer

The Crawford County girls’ volleyball team dominated its Thursday night match against visiting South Central with a three-game sweep of the Lady Rebels. It was the first sweep for the Lady Pack in several matches, while South Central is still looking for a way to get over the hump with several close losses.

“That has been us all season,” said South Central coach Chelsea Thomas. “I can’t tell you how many sets we have lost where we are three points away or four points away or five points away. They’re struggling to convert those points into wins. They play hard.”

“We’re trying to adjust,” Thomas said. “We’re trying our rotation, trying to adjust where girls fit, where they’re best seated and things like that. It’s been a tough season. We should have at least played better. They’re struggling.”

“That’s our first three-win night in a long time,” said Crawford County coach Julie Adams. “It was not the prettiest, but there were good things at times. I do think we were able to run things that we should have run more, more runs or slides more often, but I’ll take it.”

Kendall Kiper punched in two service aces for the Lady Rebels to begin the match but that would be the only lead South Central would see in game one as Crawford County went on a 13-3 run and a 13-5 cushion. The Lady Rebels later lost even more ground, and the Lady Pack had a 4-0 burst to lead by 12. South Central made only a slight gain in the end with Crawford County getting a 25-16 win.

Adams said her team was having to adjust to a slower pace compared to the night before when it played a stronger Tell City.

“In games like this, it’s hard because they’re used to playing at a faster speed,” Adams said. “We just came off of Tell City last night, and they’re probably the strongest hitters we’ve played against. So, they were coming off of that to tonight where it was a slower pace, a lot more free balls and a lot of balls over the block, hitting them deep.”

South Central gave the Lady Pack a much harder time in the second set with points going back and forth, the Lady Rebels having a slight advantage, 13-12, midway through the game. Kiper aced for a 14-12 edge but served into the net on the next side-out. Natalie Stroud and Sarah Stutzman punched in kills to put Crawford County back in front.

The next two side-outs saw both teams commit hitting errors. The Lady Pack finally found a gear with kills by Taylor Herbaugh and Emily Kerce and three service aces by Eden Talley for a 7-0 run. The two teams traded the next two points, then Herbaugh finished with an ace for a 25-16 win.

“One of the girls said in the  timeout, ‘We have got to get her serves up early’,” said Thomas. “We’re letting (Talley) kill us on serves simply because we can’t make one pass. One of my main setters is out with pneumonia. My poor JV team has like three injuries right now, so we just can’t get ahead this season.”

South Central jumped out to a 4-1 cushion to start the third set, and Crawford County had to slowly chew its way back into the game after suffering a rash of hitting errors. Kerce and Herbaugh finally put together three straight kills to start a 7-0 run, putting Crawford County back in front. Desi Puckett helped out with a pair of aces on serve for a 13-7 lead. The Lady Rebels never regained any momentum from that point, and Crawford County finished the game and match with four straight points for the 25-14 win.

“They were hitting high,” Adams said. “They were hitting over our blocks. They were sending three-balls deep to us. That just makes our back row work a little bit harder. Our passes weren’t that good. We couldn’t really turn around and have an offense off of it. They sent a lot of free balls and a lot of tips as well.

“Tonight, they were adjusting to a rotation that we haven’t even been able to practice,” said Thomas. “It’s a struggle, but they adjusted. They just adjusted too late. Their second set was their best rotation and their best set by far because they were moving better and talking on the floor better. Then, they got ahead and excited and then it was like they lost the lead because they forgot they still had to do what they were supposed to do.”

Stutzman led the Lady Pack with eight kills, and Herbaugh finished with seven kills and three service aces. Talley had three kills and six aces, and Kerce tallied six kills. Stroud had five kills, and Puckett added four kills. Crawford County missed nine serves but had 16 total service aces. The Lady Pack finished the night with 21 errors.

“I would say the last three or four games she has come out and been swinging,” Adams said of Stutzman. “But then she is very smart, and that was one thing I realized, I need her on the court at all times. She keeps the momentum up. She talks the most. She just keeps the positivity out there on the court at all times.”

“(Talley) and Desi Puckett, Desi Puckett served on multiple runs, both of them,” she said. “Their serves were very critical. I had (Talley) starting serve because she has a good serve. She’s our only jump-server right now. That ball movement to start off the game really helps for us. She needs a little bit more confidence. She’ll tell you. She’ll question things at times, but she’s got a good jump-serve.”

Kiper led South Central with five aces, and Brooklyn Robson delivered four kills for the Lady Rebels. South Central missed three serves for the three games and delivered eight aces. The Lady Rebels tallied 25 errors for the night.

“They’ve got to learn how to finish it,” Thomas said. “They’re doing good things. I just hope they can overcome for the next couple of weeks because they’ve only got about two weeks left in their season before sectional. We’ve got about seven games in the next two weeks. So, I’m hoping within the next couple of weeks we can see some more wins and see them grow a little bit more as a team and see if they can convert some of those points into wins for us.”

“It’s a win,” said Adams. “We’ll take it. The next two weeks is going to be quick-paced. We’ve got three games next week and three games the week after, and the following week is sectional so the season is already winding down.”